Farmington River Report 4/6/20: And then, the bottom fought back…

Yesterday’s expedition was dedicated to nymphing the lower River. The action was spotty to say the least: six marks visited, three of them total blanks. But…we’ll get to that in a moment.

First, be advised that Monday is the new Saturday on the Farmington. I’ve never seen the river this crowded on a Monday this early in the season. There were anglers in four of the six pools I hit, sometimes three or more. If you value solitude, gird your loins.

The method was drop shot nymphing, about 25% tight line and 75% indicator. I fished a size 18 soft-hackled pheasant tail on top dropper, and a Frenchie variant on point. I took trout on both flies.

It’s semi-sweet to say that you may have already landed your biggest trout of the season, but it is what is. I was nymphing a deeper run when the indicator dipped and I set the hook. The emotional and logical thought protocols immediately kicked into gear: “Is that the bottom? No, it is not, I can feel a head shake. Let me re-set the hook. OK, that’s a decent fish. Wow, that’s a strong fish. Shoot, he’s sulking on the bottom. Gotta keep him away from that submerged boulder. Gotta move him. I’ll do that steelhead side-to-side rod arc thing. Gotta get him out of the current so he can’t breathe. That frog water looks like a good LZ.”

And then, as you get your first visual, you wish for a bigger net. But you’ve whipped the fish fast (remembering the sage advice of Stu Apte: “To play him long is to play him wrong.”) and now the moment of glory is at hand. Swing and a miss. Again…yessir. Wow!

Hunk-a hunk-a burning Survivor Strain love. Wotta tummy! Wotta tail! And shoulders that simply aren’t done justice by this photo. Easily over 20″, but this is a fish that should be measured in pounds. 

DCIM100GOPROG0013613.

A trout like that called for a celebration. So I fired up a Rocky Patel The Edge torpedo and did just that.

 

 

Fly fishing guide trips on hold — resuming when?

As you’re probably aware, all fly fishing guide trips or lessons are on hold. I know that many of you reached out to me this winter to book a trip/lesson, and I asked you to touch base in early April. And here we are. It’s’ a bad situation for everyone.

First, it goes without saying that I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy. If you’re managing to get out and go fishing, that’s even better. So, when can we resume normal relations?

I’ll be following the best practice guidelines put forth by those who know far more about pandemics than me. When they give us the green light, I’ll make a post here on currentseams. A reminder that my schedule will likely not change: weekends will out, so week days it shall have to be.

Thanks to all of you who continue to read and follow currentseams. Keeping with the guiding theme, here are a few memorable guide trips from the archives:

Greg hit it just right. We fished wet flies in mid-June from 3pm-7pm. With some strong caddis and sulphur hatches to goose the trout along, Greg had a banner day. It’s hard to beat wet flies pre- and during the hatch.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

July. Slow action. One of those warm, humid days that starts the Farmington River fog machine. The air over the water was cool and damp, and Mark and I were shivering in our shirtsleeves. I volunteered to fetch our jackets, and said to Mark as I left, “When I come back, I want to see your rod bent over.” This is the sight I was greeted by as I came back through the woods. All of my stories are true, and some of them actually happened. Like this one. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

I love teaching, but I can’t control what Mother Nature is going to throw at us on any given day. So I was delighted to have her cooperate for this early May wet fly class. The trout were most agreeable, too. Ihor’s here with a gorgeous wild brown.

DCIM100GOPROG0034989.

 

 

Farmington River Report 1/10/19: Hook sets and the mystery salmo

I guided Rich yesterday from 10am-2pm. We fished three marks within the permanent TMA, with one of them producing four trout. As so often happens with winter fishing, find one trout and you’ll find another. Many thanks to Jerry for so graciously sharing the water! Since Rich is new to the river, we also spent some recon time at several other pools. The method was indicator nymphing with a drop-shot nymph rig. I didn’t get a water temp, but it was cold — I’ll guesstimate 36 degrees, 420cfs, and the air temp never got into the upper 40s as advertised. Four trout on a January outing is darn good, so well done, Rich!

Rich’s first ever Farmington brown, a lovely Survivor Strain (note clipped adipose). I wasn’t happy with Rich’s hook set motion, so after he struck I asked for his rod to re-demonstrate, not knowing that he had indeed hooked up. Too funny, my bad, good on you, Rich! We spent the rest of the day laughing about that one.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

Rich was on fire after the first trout. I had intended to bring the black latex gloves, but forgot. Folks, this water is unpleasantly cold. We caught fish on the soft-hackled pheasant tail (sz 18) dropper and Frenchy variant (size 14) point fly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

The mystery Salmo. I had thought due to coloration, spotting, and tail fork that this was a beast of a juvenile salar, but the maxillary extends well past the eye, so that would point to trutta. A fisheries biologist once told me that there may be some cross-pollinating between browns and precocious young Atlantics — could this be the result of such a union? Either way, a lovely fish.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

Posterior of the mystery Salmo. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Farmington River Report 11/5/19: Early fireworks

I guided Drew today, and to celebrate Guy Fawkes’ Day we started off with a bang: two trout on two casts! Drew is new to the Farmington and relatively new to trout fishing, so given the time of year and conditions (cold, 310cfs) our task was to cover some water and work on the nymphing game. The specific method was indicator nymphing, drop shot rig, and we went with a sz 14 Frenchie Variant and a sz 18 SHPT. The trout liked both, the Frenchie being the favorite.

First cast, the indicator merely twitched. Look for a reason to set the hook on every drift!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

Second cast. At this point it was proposed that we quit and go get coffee and doughnuts. The motion failed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

Angler traffic was light, and we did not see any other fish hooked today. (Thanks to the one gentleman who offered to share the water!) We hit four marks and found fish in two of them. Four trout to net, a few more lost at hookset, and we called it a very good day.  Nice job, Drew!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Thank you Thames Valley TU! Individual members awarded Legion of Cheeseburger Merit with Double IPA Clusters and the Croix d’Cigar, plus the question of the night

Many thanks to the Thames Valley TU Chapter for hosting me last night. The meeting was very well attended, and I was pleased to see so many familiar faces (I even remembered some of the names!) I opened with a reading from my recent EFF article on the Farmington River, then it was on to the new and improved presentation. Good stuff.

Special mention to TVTU member and long-time currentseams follower Alton Blodgett who treated me to a great burger and beer at the Willimantic Brewing Company. A fed presenter is a happy presenter! Thanks also to the kind gentleman (rats, I forgot your name, good sir) who gifted me the lovely Casa Fernandez toro.

The question of the evening centered around proper catch and release technique. Here’s the gist of my long-form answer: it starts with barbless hooks and a net made of fish-friendly material (not that old knotted nylon garbage). The less you handle the fish, the better. The less you expose the fish to air, the better. If you’re going to take a photo, make it fish friendly. Either keep the trout in the water, as I’m doing here…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

…or make your hero shot photo op brief. Get your camera ready, and if you’re flying solo, program it to take multiple shots automatically. Here’s a good example of not keeping the fish out of the river for too long. Note the water droplets cascading off the fish — it’s literally been out of the water for less than 5 seconds. I shot it with a GoPro attached to my landing net.

DCIM100GOPROG0013068.

~

See you tonight for “Wet Flies 101,” Capital District Fly Fishers, Colonie VFW Post 8692, 140 VFW Road, Colonie, NY.

Farmington River Report 9/25/19: The soft hackles have it

I guided repeat client John yesterday and we were blessed with spectacular weather. Water was low (130/160cfs, permanent TMA/Unionville) but very fishable and cool, even down south. John wanted to work on his wet fly game, so we headed up to Riverton to take advantage of the recent stocking. If the DEEP trucks made a recent visit, we saw no evidence of it: we hit three marks in two hours, and waded hundreds of yards of water without a single touch. Other anglers we encountered also reported blanking. Very curious.

Look like a good place for a SOB-ing trout to be hiding out? I certainly thought so. John covering some very sexy water with a team of three.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

Thus spanked, we headed down to the permanent TMA for a nymphing lesson. John had never done any nymphing, but he took to it quickly, and before too long was rewarded with a gorgeous Survivor Strain brown. We took one more rainbow, and both fish came on the top dropper, a tiny (sz 18 2x short) SHPT.

Parr marks, haloed spots, clipped adipose and obstreperous behavior once netted clearly IDed this fish as a Survivor Strain brown. Not a bad first Farmington River brown, nor a bad first trout ever on a nymph!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

We finished up swinging wets on the lower river and brought a few more fish to hand. Nice job John in some challenging conditions!

This seems like a good time to mention that I am a teaching guide, and if you’re like John — someone who has had some success in fly fishing but wants to expand their skill set — maybe you should consider a few hours on the water with me. I teach anglers of all levels, from beginner to experienced. You can find out more here.

 

 

 

Farmington River article in the Sept/Oct issue of Eastern Fly Fishing

Hot off the presses! “West Branch Farmington River — Southern New England’s Blue Ribbon Trout Stream” by yours truly is in the current (September/October) issue of Eastern Fly Fishing. Many thanks to UpCountry Sportfishing’s Torrey Collins and CT DEEP Fisheries Biologists Neal Hagstrom and Brian Eltz for lending their comments. If you don’t subscribe, you can get a copy on newsstands or you can check here.

It’s a privilege to able to write about the places that I love to fish. How fortunate we are to have the Farmington River so close to home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA